Sankarea – 05 Review
Episode 05 – Putting it All in Context
So, this review is a week behind due to my exams. However, I had so much to say about this and the most recent episode, it was only reasonable to split it up into two separate reviews. There’s no summary here, just some of my thoughts about the best aspects of the episode – namely the subtly demonstrated dichotomy between living/dead that makes this series such an awesome watch.
While this episode may have seemed a bit slow until the very end, it covered the all-important task of putting things into context. Rea’s a zombie, she’s living with Chihiro, and she’s currently incapacitated due to rigor mortis – and what about the rest of the world (or their friends and families, at least)? In an average ecchi-harem-rom-com, it seems that more often than not a series focuses on the main couple’s story, forgetting about their place in their world/town/social group by the second episode. I’ve watched countless animes, constantly asking, “Where are these kids’ parents?”, or “Why don’t their friends think this is crazy?”.
I really enjoyed how this episode approached the matter. Without losing focus on Rea and Chihiro’s relationship or ruining the pacing, the series managed to subtly work in some important info. Mainly, that people know and are concerned about Rea’s sudden disappearance. Her household is in a noticeable uproar, her classmates are worried sick, and even Ranko is speculating on her whereabouts. It wasn’t much, but I’m so glad the series at least nodded its head to the fact that there are other people besides Rea and Chihiro who would notice and be affected by Rea’s joining the ranks of the undead.
And what about Chihiro? Still no decent background story on him yet, but I liked how this episode showed Chihiro’s family in action. His family is so damned weird, but they’re good people and they seem pretty close and happy together. Little details like Gramps yelling about fish paste in the miso soup, are not only funny, but really illustrate how comfortable and warm Chihiro’s home life is.
It serves to really humanize Chihiro. And that’s great for a couple of reasons – it characterizes Chihiro as a nice guy who’s not just some creepy, messed up kid with an unhealthy zombie fetish – but more importantly it points out this huge and ever growing difference between Rea and Chihiro, underscoring Rea’s zombie-ness.
I love the art, music, directing, and voice acting, but the whole living/dead dichotomy is probably the most interesting part of Sankarea for me. This contrast is shown through little things, like Rea’s extremely pale skin, or (mostly in Ep 06) how Rea’s new red eyes are contrasted with her old hydrangea-blue eyes… And some big things, like how Rea doesn’t actually have friends, only admirers, and how her family is so cold and unloving. Those are all things that you really don’t notice unless you compare them to a living person (especially Chihiro) – Rea’s skin doesn’t look odd until she’s next to someone, and you don’t think much about her lack of friends or her cold family until you see how Chihiro’s friends and family care for him even though he’s so bizarre. But since Rea’s always had these qualities, even though they may have been exacerbated by becoming a zombie, it makes it seem unconsciously like Rea was “dead” from the start, when compared to the warmth and life of Ranko, or even Chihiro.
I’m still loving the use of the music and facial expressions. I wrote about that a little in my last post – they’re small details but when added up they make the show into so much more than its source material. The best examples are in the Rea/Ranko fan-service scene, and I’ll talk more about that in my next review… How Chihiro was wincing and looked horrified during his first kiss with Rea? And there was horror/scary music playing all the while? And Ranko’s horrified expression when she saw it? Totally brilliant! Yeah Sankarea!